How To Get Cheap UK Rail Tickets
Top Tips To Save You Money On Train Tickets Across The UK

It is still possible to buy cheap UK Rail tickets. Save up to 80% on the cost of train tickets.

Find top tips and tricks here to help you spend less on your rail tickets. 

Two things they say are certain: Death and taxes. 

If you have been following the trend in the UK, many rail commuters would agree that there is a third certainty:

Rail ticket price is certain to go up in January. 

  • This has been the trend since 1993. Only a few years ago, the BBC reported how the season tickets for London to Manchester had increased 65% since 1995 with inflation accounted for.
  • The reported single tickets prices were even grimmer with London to Nottingham fares showing an increase of 166% while the route to Manchester topped the charts at 208% increase.
  • The Independent also reported a 245% fare increase for walk-on tickets on certain routes.
  • To put this in context of actual numbers, we are talking of passengers paying £229.50 for London Euston to Liverpool First-Class Anytime Single tickets. As the Independent so perfectly puts it, “With figures like these it's not hard to imagine railways becoming the preserve of the rich.”

Some would say that there is always second and third class if you can’t afford first class ticket however, this is at the very root of the angst against the railway system’s; train travel has become affordable only for the middle class and up commuters. The continual yearly rail fare hikes are only contributing to the wealth gap as average commuters are forced to fork out more each year in order to afford train passage.

With the ever rising cost of rail travel, many commuters would welcome practical tips to cut down on cost. Yes. With a bit of planning, and diligence, you can save up to 80% on the cost of your daily, monthly or yearly commute on the Ukrailways. You do not have to pay the full ticket price anymore. 

Here are some tips and tricks. 

How To Get Cheap UK Rail Tickets

Happy couple gets cheap UK rail tickets.Follow our tips to get cheap UK rail tickets for your next train journey.

Buy Your Tickets Early in Advance

Buying your ticket well in advance of your travel day the easiest and sure way of cutting down your your ticket price.

In general and despite limited availability, you can get the best deals on rail tickets if you buy around 12 weeks in advance because Network Rail must by contract set their timetables for 12 weeks in advance.

A graduated discounted pricing is then applied to the tickets, with the price on the tickets rising as the travel time on them approaches.

Using the future travel chart by National Rail is one way for you to find out the latest rail tickets that can be bought in advance depending on the train company. For some lines, advance ticket pricing can even still be available down to hours before the train departs so it is possible to still save. The same concept applies for season tickets; they are just another form of paying in advance so you can save more as opposed to buying individual tickets as needed. 

Buy your ticket online and save even more, no later than the night before your departure date. 

Travel Off Peak

This is a well known way of significantly cutting on your travel cost and get yourself cheap UK Rail tickets just by altering your travel time where possible.

Plan your journey for the off peak times.

If you want to travel to London and back on the same day, it may be better if your schedule permits, to travel before 4 am or after 9:30 am and then return say at 7 pm or even later if you can. This is because these times are not convenient for business travelers. So there is less demand on the trains and price drops. You not only travel for less, but in greater comfort as there are less number of people on the train.

So, if you are flexible, you have more chance of getting a cheaper ticket during off peak times. 

Split Your Journey

Split your journey into several legs. 

So you can buy a ticket from say Crewe to Watford and then Watford to London. This method works most of the time, but you will have to enter in several start and end destinations in the ticket search box.

You can find the details of the stations along the route you plan to travel on, and then using different stations, to find out which one offers you the best price. Hard work, but it may pay you a handsome reward in savings on travel cost. Just think about it; it may take you no more than 20 minutes to do such research, yet this can potentially save you over a £100 depending on where you are travelling to. How many people earns a £100 in 20 minutes?

Also, if you can, think about using a different station. So instead of thinking that you have to travel from Crewe to London, can you travel to Stoke and then get another train (after 9:30 am) from there? This may cut down the cost of your travel significantly.

Another great way is to use the many apps and websites that offer calculations for splitting ticks on rail fares.

A quick search for tickets for the trip from London to Bristol using the website SplitYourTicket will show you that passengers could save £76.70 during peak hours by buying 4 separate segments of the trip.

Even more astounding is the London to Durham return ticket that when split using the free Money Saving Expert app saves commuters £219. The regular trip costs £301 pre-ticket splitting however when the tickets are bought in 4 separate segments the total cost only comes up to £82. Bear in mind that these savings are occurring for the same trip on the same train at the same time!

The only difference is whether you buy 1 ticket start to finish or you divide it into chunks. This money saving strategy is permitted by the National Rail Conditions of Carriage with the only stipulation being that the train should actually call at each of the stations where your tickets are split on.

It is also a no brainer solution since the websites or apps do the calculations and give you the exact stations and times that allow maximum savings.

Buy Single Ticket Sometimes

To get cheap UK rail tickets to anywhere in the country, you may be surprised to find out that buying a return ticket isn't always smart.

Take the pain and enter the "legs" of your journey as singles, instead of return, and then re-enter your journey as return and see potential savings if it applies to your trip destination.

Use Budget Trains

Budget train fares to many parts of the UK and Europe can also be found.

It’s just a question of finding where to look and of course that time old trusted method of once again booking in advance.

If you book in good time from your travel date, you could travel on the Megabus or Megatrain to many destinations in the UK from £1.00 only plus a booking fee of £0.50p! What could be a cheaper way of travelling? Yes. You could travel from London to Manchester from £1.50p!

The lure to Europe via train as opposed to other modes of transport is obvious, “with no airport taxes, no baggage fees or weight limits, infants go free, and the trains run centre-to-centre with no extra cost to get to and from remote airports.”

European Train Tickets online is an excellent resource for quick and easy tips and methods for purchasing cheap European fares.

As quoted from their site, it outlines valuable advice on; Turn-up-and-go ticketing: Where tickets for local, regional & suburban trains just about anywhere can easily be bought at the station, at a fixed price.

Airline-style ticketing: Highlighting how inter-city trains work like airlines, as do most international high-speed trains. Reservation is compulsory and every long-distance ticket always automatically includes a reserved seat.

Fares work like air fares, with very cheap prices if you book in advance and much more expensive ones if you buy on the day. Traditional long-distance train ticketing: You can save money by pre-booking a cheaper train-specific advance-purchase ticket, the joy of this is that trains cannot 'sell out'.

If you are willing to pay full-price you can always just turn up, buy a ticket and get on the next train; although if all the seats are taken, you'll have to stand or sit on the floor.

Get A Hefty Discount With A Railcard Or Other Discount Cards

There are railcards, oyster card and other discount cards for rail users to save you further on your rail journeys.

Buying a railcard, or student oyster card saves you at least a further 30% on your journey.

Just imagine the total savings if you apply all the above tips on how to get cheap UK train tickets, combined with a further thirty percent savings?

What a smart way of getting cheap UK Rail tickets! If you are aged between 16 to 25 years, or you are a student, or even travelling as a family, or you are 65 years of age or above, or if you are disabled, never ever pay the full fare on train tickets.

This is true more so if you are a frequent user of the train. But even if you are not a frequent user, and you are, say coming to the UK on holidays, you might find out that buying a railcard and using it when you buy your train tickets could still save you lots of money.

Get more information on where to buy railcards here.

If you are planning to take a trip to London on sight seeing, you could buy the London Pass plus travel Card, which gives you access to see over 55 attraction spots for unlimited travel within London, with a potential savings of over £460!

Get Tickets From The Train Operating Companies Directly

Another often ignored way to get cheap UK rail tickets is to buy your train ticket directly from the Train Operating Companies. Look for the train operating company servicing the route you plan to travel on and buy tickets directly from them. 

Cheap UK Rail Ticket Tips, Queries & Reviews: Have Your Say!

Do you have a great story, tip, or experience about getting cheap UK rail tickets? Or do you have a query about the best way you can save on a proposed UK train journey? We would love to hear from you!

Please feel free to respond to comments or questions asked by other users below.

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